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Notice to civic bodies on ban on selling food in the open

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 - 22:48

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Wednesday issued notice to the city`s civic agencies on a plea seeking quashing of notifications prohibiting for six months vendors from selling food or drinks that are exposed to dust to curb the spread of diseases in summer.

A division bench of Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Sidharth Mridul sought response from the civic bodies by Aug 5, and also refused to stay the notifications issued March 20 and 24.

"Notice issued to civic agencies. We are not staying the notifications as you (petitioner) have come after four months, now only two months are left," the bench said.

The public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) through advocate Prashant Bhushan, asking the court to restrain public notifications of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) that restrained open sale and preparation of cut-fruits and sugarcane juice.

Threatened by an outbreak of any dangerous disease, the MCD prohibited the sale and preparation of any food article exposed to dust and flies.

Appearing for street vendors, advocate Ramesh Mishra told the court that the notifications were issued "merely on whims and fancies" of the commissioners with the recital that Delhi usually experiences outbreak of cholera.

The notifications prohibiting sale of any food and drink article exposed to dust and flies was "vague and arbitrary", Mishra added.

"It gives unbridled power in the hands of municipal authorities which is liable to harass the street vendors. The notifications do not lay down any guideline for hygienic sale and preparation of food articles by street vendors, violation of which can be made punishable under the impugned orders," the lawyer said.

The plea said that in such circumstances, as street vendors usually operate in open spaces, all street vendors selling or preparing any food or drink article have become vulnerable to punishment and harassment on whims and fancies of municipal authorities.

There is no relevant material to suggest that food and drink articles specified in the public notices are causing cholera, said the plea.

Before imposing any such restriction, the sample of the food articles ought to be sent for research and checked thoroughly to prove that the particular food article contains the bacteria responsible for the outbreak of cholera, it added.

The petition further said there was no mention of any such reports of any survey or research conducted by the municipal bodies in the impugned public notices.

First Published: Wednesday, July 16, 2014 - 22:48

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